Professional Ethics and Civic Morals Essay

Professional Ethics and Civic Morals Essay.

The role of the individual and its relationship to the state has been a matter of much sociological debate. Theorists in an array of varied fields such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, and politics have attempted to explain the correlation between the two. In this paper, I will concentrate on the role of individualism to an authoritarian or fascist political structure and how America’s ideals of intense individualism over the collective have led to a vulnerability to a totalitarian political regime.

Using the work of Emile Durkheim on the idea of civic morals, i.e. the relationship of the individual to the State, as well as Amitai Etzioni’s study on particularistic obligations and Milgram’s views on obedience we will come to see that the definition of self in relation to the State plays an integral role on not only the individual’s role in the mechanics of the state but their subsequent obedience to the state system.

In his work Professional Ethics and Civic Morals, Emile Durkheim explores the relationship of the individual to himself, his family, his profession, and finally his government.

As he notes in his defining of the state, there has been since the beginning of civilization, as we know it a direct opposition between the political parties and their constituents.

In this lies a division of power, those who wield the authority and those who submit to it. The state is defined as a spatial territory complete with its own customs and interests to which the political party should serve in view of a public good. In the United States, where the larger territory of the country is quite literally divided into semi-autonomous states which retain some control but answer to the federal government on other issues, there is a division of power that belies a partiality.

With politics largely divided into two political categories Democrats and Republicans, there are limits and deviations from what the public good means. The American ideal of each individual voice having the power to influence policy and politics, while at the heart of the ideals of democracy, also tends to lead toward exclusionary and separatists policies that effect only a portion of a total population.

In the name of the democratic process, Americans accept the results despite the fact that certain policies while acceptable and profitable for one portion of the population can have a detrimental effect on other factions stifle our voices. Durkheim notes that individuals are at the center of the development of any state society, whether it be artistic, economic or political. Without the individuals there can be not collective, however, the United States concentration on recognizing and using an individualist centered ideal of a collective leaves it vulnerable to the control of the collectiveness of a few over the many.

Though it would seem that with the democratic structure of our election system and the multi-tiered mechanics of the law system that the United States would be immune to something such as fascism, in reality our system promotes much of the same individualist pandering seen in totalitarian societies. Americans do not always vote for the politics but rather individuals based on an array of factors including morality, religion, personal life/appearance, success with rhetoric, and the changing ethical landscape exemplified in changing attitudes towards science, religion, and race as well as other socio-political structures.

Our election campaign process involves the polarizing of certain individual figureheads and not that of ideas, the ideas and policies become secondary in a society, which concentrates so completely on external signifiers.

Aggravating the United States state of the pseudo-democratic process is a state of isolation that has been both promoted by the federal government during the Bush era and broken down into a more universalistic approach by Obama. However, at the heart of the patriotism that defines the country, there is a pride, which excludes others and promotes U.S. interests over that of a collective world society.

This policy of patriotic isolationism leaves the U.S. particularly vulnerable to a totalitarian regime in that its interests stretch only to within its own borders. As Etzioni notes, “isolated people tend to be irrational, impulsive, and open to demagogical appeals and totalitarian movements.

One could argue that these movements have risen only in societies and periods in which social integration has been greatly weakened” (590). Drawing on this concept, the lack of social cohesiveness following the September 11 attacks when the government suspended certain civil rights for certain people in the name of fighting terrorism, shows the power of a small portion of government to take effective and complete control over the lives of its people without a democratic or collective process.

The rights that were stripped from all were done so in effect to stop an unknown number and an unknown contingent of society. That these restrictions affected the whole was of little consequence to the government and at first for a large part of American citizens who obeyed these without question. This is perhaps one of the most recent and poignant examples of the risks posed to the United States by a totalitarian/fascist government.

Elsewhere in American history we can see similar instances where a minority of people (in the larger schema, though a large group themselves) having been oppressed and persecuted by a small group of government or political interests; think the Japanese Americans of World War II – the rhetoric of hate used to imprison them seemingly eerily familiar to the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini though hidden under the pretense of security.

The conformity of the American people to government decisions that actually demoralize and depress an entire portion of individual peoples, shown through the nation’s history, have been both negative and positive. Bernard Bass in discussing Miligram’s conformity paradigm defines conformity as “behavior reflecting the successful influence of other persons” (38), wherein he shows that the definition of any successful government whether it be democratic or authoritarian relies on obedience, the difference between the two lies in the structure of the society and its beliefs on the individual’s political view point.

Every state runs a risk of being overpowered and seized by an authoritarian regime; however, their overall success is contingent on the attitudes of the individuals who make up that state. In a communist controlled government such as China, where the ideals of socialist reform are extolled if not always practiced, the ground in dogma of the party would undermine the detrimental influence of a demagogic individual.

However, in the United States where the individual is seen to have control over his own individual destiny which can be and is interwoven into the social fabric, the very ideals that give importance to the idea of the individual also make the country vulnerable to the control of such individuals.

While the American government structure attempts to hedge itself against this danger by having a governing body broken into two major parts and limits on the executive branch’s control. But given the right set of circumstances such as terrorism and blind fear, the democratic power of the people can easily be superseded by the hands of only a few. Fear and intimidation work on many levels, some more subtle than others, all leading to an obedience and control, which are at the heart of a totalitarian authority.


Bass, B. (1961). “Conformity, Deviation, and a General Theory of Interpersonal Behavior.” Conformity and Deviation. Ed. I.A. Berg and B. Bass. New York: Harper and Brothers, pp. 38-101.

Durkheim, E. (1992). Professional Ethics and Civic Morals. Ed. C. Brookfield. New York: Routledge.

Etzioni, A. (Fall 2002) “Are Particularistic Obligations Justified? A Communitarian Justification.” The Review of Politics. 64 (4). pp. 573-598.

Professional Ethics and Civic Morals Essay

The Morality of Birth Control by Margaret Sanger Essay

The Morality of Birth Control by Margaret Sanger Essay.

An example of bias in the work was written to show the stereotypes and bias experienced by women demonstrated by their male counterparts. She wrote, “We know that every advance that woman has made in the last half century has been made with opposition, all of which has been based upon the grounds of immorality. When women fought for higher education, it was said that this would cause her to become immoral and she would lose her place in the sanctity of the home.

When women asked for the franchise it was said that this would lower her standard of morals, that it was not fit that she should meet with and mix with the members of the opposite sex, but we notice that there was no objection to her meeting with the same members of the opposite sex when she went to church. ” (Sanger, 1921) Fallacies that I was able to locate in the work were the use of the appeal to tradition fallacy and the appeal to common practice fallacy.

In the work, Sanger explained that she had sent letters to different people regarding the issue, including those who felt differently on the issue. To those who opposed the birth control issue, she wrote: “…with the exception of one group whose reply to this important question as demonstrated at the Town Hall last Sunday evening was a disgrace to liberty-loving people, and to all traditions we hold dear in the United States. ” (Sanger, 1921) The aforementioned statement is a fallacy.

Yes, “liberty-loving people” enjoy their freedom of choice; however, it is illogical to call disgrace to those who oppose it. The author also used rhetorical explanations combined with the scapegoating fallacy when she wrote about the “third group. ” She wrote, “The third are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequence of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers.

Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent entirely upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. ” (Sanger, 1921) Another rhetorical device that the author used as the main argument was “motherhood may be the function of dignity and choice rather than one of ignorance and chance. ” (Sanger, 1921) Sanger successfully used alliteration to make her argument. It stated her position on the issue and did so in a manner that would compel the readers to, in a way, take her position.

The opposing argument that the author isted was that “however desirable it may be on economic or social grounds, it may be abused and the morals of the youth or the country may be lowered. ” (Sanger, 1921) Sanger’s counter-argument was “the reckless abandonment of the impulse of the moment and the careless regard for the consequences, is not morality. ” (1921)

The right to control size of family by controlling conception “is a better method, a civilized method [because it] involves not only a greater forethought for others [but also] sanctions higher value of life itself. (Sanger, 1921) Margaret Sanger’s use of rhetorical devices, fallacies, and demonstrating claims that are biased were extremely effective in effort to persuade her readers to agree with her side. She was able to state her arguments in an unbiased manner, provide opposing arguments, and counter-argue against opposing views. As one of the many readers/listeners of this work, I was convinced to side with author, Margaret Sanger. ?

The Morality of Birth Control by Margaret Sanger Essay

Human Nature – Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil? Essay

Human Nature – Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil? Essay.

What is thought of as immoral to one person can be seen as ethical to another, and vice versa. This is due to the difference in the way humans perceive things, which is part of the intricacy of mankind. “During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man. ” (Hobbes) Hobbes states that Humans are naturally evil and need a powerful government to control them.

Is it true?

Rousseau thinks otherwise. “In reasoning on the principles he (Thomas Hobbes) lays down, he ought to have said that the state of nature, being that in which the care for our own preservation is the least prejudicial to that of others, was consequently the best calculated to promote peace, and the most suitable for mankind? man in the state of nature is both strong and dependent involves two contrary suppositions.

Man is weak when he is dependent, and is his own master before he comes to be strong.

” (Rousseau) The issue of good and evil is brought up in “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, when innocent boys find themselves on a deserted island attempting to create a society similar to ours. What circumstances occur to them? How do past influences affect them? Are their actions good or evil? The actions of the boys were not a matter of being good or evil, but were actions for survival. A person’s environment does not draw him towards good or evil, nor is he or she born with it inside.

Humans have instincts that are not affairs of good and evil, but of survival. By natural instinct, humans will do what is best for them especially for their survival. Animals, much like people, kill when in need. For instance, if they feel they are cornered, they would attack. If they need food, they will kill to eat. In “Lord of the Flies”, Ralph was being hunted by Jack’s tribe, and in a desperate attempt in his defense, thrusts his spear through a crack at the inspecting savages. Ralph attacked someone of his own kind for his own survival.

It can be believed that man is the derivative of others animals, and as such, they have certain instincts that were instilled from birth. The boys later began to simulate the behavior of animals. “At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws. ” (Golding 153) William Golding’s description of this scene leads a reader to believe that these boys acquired animal like qualities. Do you know of any human who tears with teeth and claws?

The boys mistake Simon for their beast and result in ruthlessly killing him. In their state of mind of savagery and hunting, they saw themselves in danger of this “beast” and their first instinct was to kill anything in sight that had the possibility of being it. Humans, like animals, have a natural instinct to protect themselves in case of danger, like attacking when cornered. Instincts are inherited, but indistinct characteristics such as good or evil are not. The significance of moral values do not apply to actions in situations for survival.

Instincts are not about being moral or immoral, because the issue of being good and evil is undefined. Whether an action or situation is good or bad depends on who it is and how it is being perceived. This makes this issue uncertain due to the way it is viewed from person to person. Since the way it is seen will differ, man cannot be exclusively evil or exclusively good. Consider the following example: A dog constantly jumps on the window of a door in an attempt to get the attention of the family inside. He is doing this in hopes to be let back inside the house.

Someone inside the house could view this as being evil, which would be different from the view of an animal lover. They would not consider this evil and would claim that the dog had not caused physical harm and just didn’t know any better. The dog doesn’t believe that it is evil because he is only obeying environmental charge. He’s been inside before and knows that it is much nicer than outside, and wants the attention that is inside. The dog has tried to jump on the door before, and had received the attention of someone who thus let him in.

This leads the dog to believe that what he is doing is the “right” thing to do. After all, he just wants in, right? So the dog is evil because someone inside says he is, but then he is not evil because he doesn’t think he is. The opinions on what is evil and what isn’t disagree with each other because of how it was perceived by each side. In “Lord of the Flies” there is a situation that deals with Piggy’s glasses, which is the key to fire on the island. The glasses were stolen in the middle of the night that leads to a fight in the dark among the boys.

The fact that the glasses were stolen, and they were Piggy’s only aid for sight, can be seen as evil, but what about Jack’s side? Jack acts upon his devoir to light a fire in order to cook the pig he killed with his tribe to fully enjoy their prize. Ralph and Samneric engage in a fight with whosoever they can touch first, without an attempt to reason. Which is evil in this situation? Humans are simply complex animals that respond to complex impulse, and their behaviors are influenced or are a product of everything that they learn starting from the day of their birth to the day of their death.

Society sets a mold for the “good” and “bad” conditions that humans are learning from day to day. The role of society in being good or evil is that it acts as this guideline for that long lived dream of acceptance. It’s where what’s good gets you in, and what’s evil is what will make you repulsive. The ideas of power and the abuse of that power are not learned from the environment. The environment is used as a resource to abuse that power. Jack manipulates the boys into joining his tribe and sets up his territory on the island.

He threatens people to join his tribe, and hunts those that refuse to. Jack’s tactics are an example of how he abuses power by using the environment and how he sets the society guidelines of acceptance. A society could not exist where people are brought up to know what they define as right or wrong, and could stick to that without problem. “We decide things. But they don’t get done. ” (Golding 79) On the island, the civilized rules of having drinking water, shelters, and having a spot for a lavatory are not followed.

The boys were brought up having rules like these, but they did not stick to them due to the problem that they didn’t have a strong enough authority figure to instill them. Society acts as this necessary component to life, and if it’s not there then it needs to be made. The creation of society begins with people who have the power to set the rules of acceptance, and they are the ones who establish what is good and what is evil. Society may manipulate others into believing what is good and evil, but those that manipulate society create that belief.

In conclusion, Hobbes and Rousseau are both, in a sense, right and wrong. Hobbes said that human nature is evil and need to be controlled while Rousseau said human nature is good and need to govern themselves. It’s not that humans are innately good or evil, it’s their natural instinct that drives them to do immoral or ethical deeds based upon what society leads them to believe. People cannot exclusively be good or evil because the state of good and evil is undefined. People are born with an instinct that drives them to do what is necessary in extreme measures.

This instinct overtakes any other preceding thought and becomes the need for survival. In Lord of the Flies, it wasn’t whether or not the inhabitants were evil or good, it was their human reaction and instinct in the case of survival. Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York, NY: Putnam Group, 1954. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Ed. J C A. Gaskin. Oxford, NY: Oxford UP, 1998. Rousseau, Jean Jacques. The Social Contract and the First and Second Discourses. Ed. Susan Dunn. Binghamton, NY: Vail-Ballou P, 2002.

Human Nature – Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil? Essay

Morality and Lagoon Literary Essay

Morality and Lagoon Literary Essay.

The Lagoon is a story about a man who visits an old friend; they had been fighting in a war and became good friends since then. Nevertheless, a long time had passed without knowing much about each other, and these friends have a lot to talk about. The consequences of a selfish decision seem to doom the life of a man who suffers pangs of conscience. A story written by Joseph Conrad, who is considered one of the greatest novelists of the English Literature, shows how vulnerable and unstable the human morality can be.

What sort of desire would make a man betray his own brother? The selfish desire of a man who pursued love, happiness and peace with her beloved woman would be one of the answers. “There is a time when a man should forget loyalty and respect. Might and authority are given to rulers, but to all men is given love and strength and courage”. (Page 8) The strong love he felt for her, made him to go beyond the limits.

His beloved brother supported him; he bravely became selflessly involved in his brother´s love venture for they had always been very loyal to each other since they were children. Therefore, selfishness and cowardice were stronger than brotherhood.

Arsat was so focused on escaping with his woman that he seemed to forgot how much he loved his brother, he did not noticed it, he was risking his life and also the others´. “There is half a man in you now – the other half is in that woman. I can wait. When you are a whole man again, you will come back with me here to shout defiance. We are sons of the same mother”. (Page 9) But these words seemed to have been ignored by him, because what he seemed to have had in his mind was not love really, but obsession. “I longed to be with her in a safe place beyond the reach of men’s anger and of women’s spite. My love was so great, that I thought it could guide me to a country where death was unknown, if I could only escape from Inchi Midah’s spite and from our Ruler’s sword”. (Page 9) Thus, his obsessed mind led him to the despicable betrayal of his brother who loved him.

When the plan was being executed by the three of them, the situation turns out really bad. His brother was about to be caught by the guards and the weak loyalty he had for his brother in that moment of doubt and fear, was influenced by his selfish obsession which encouraged him to push the canoe and scape without his brother. His brother was left to his fate in spite of the desperate shouts he cried. “! I am coming! The men were close to him. I looked. Many men. Then I looked at her. Tuan, I pushed the canoe! […]I heard him cry my name twice; I never turned back”. (Page 10) He could bear all those years without thinking on what he had done to his brother because of his woman, but she was about to die and now he seems to be dying too.

The day he betrayed his brother, seemed to have doomed the rest of his life and certainly it did. His woman was suffering of a strange disease and died. He desperately

tried to recover her but his efforts were useless. And the past comes back to his mind every moment. Although he hopes to find his road to follow, he may not escape from his conscience, a nightmare he will have to face till the day of his death.

Morality and Lagoon Literary Essay

Morality as Anti-Nature Essay

Morality as Anti-Nature Essay.

Friedrich Nietzsche stands as one of the philosophers who tackled about the complexities of human existence and its condition. It is noteworthy to state that most of his works made several standpoints to what he refers to as the Ubermensch. The conception of such is designed to inspire the individual to substantiate his existence and rouse his self-overcoming and affirmative character. This can be said to arise from the idea of creating a self through the process of undergoing a destructive condition that enables the self to acquire greater power in relation to others.

The development of such a self is dependent upon the recognition of the anti-naturalistic character of morality which he discusses in The Twilight of the Idols in the section entitled “Morality as Anti-Nature”. Within the aforementioned text, Nietzsche argues that morality hinders the individual from experiencing life as it limits an individual’s freewill thereby in the process leading to the creation of an individual who is incapable of life itself.

He states, morality is a “revolt against life” (2006, p. 467). It is a revolt against life as it is based on the negation of an individual’s basic instinct to act freely in accordance to his passions. According to Nietzsche, this is evident in the case of Christian morality which places emphasis on the control of the passions. Within Christian morality, an individual who is incapable of controlling his passions is considered to be immoral as he is incapable of practicing restraint upon himself.

Examples of this are evident if one considers that within Christian morality, to be saintly requires restraining one’s desires and hence one can only follow the path of Christ if one denies all of his desires, the denial of which involves the denial of all worldly things. He states, within the context of this morality “disciplining…has put the emphasis throughout the ages on eradication…but attacking the passions at the root means attacking life at the root: the practice of the church is inimical to life (Nietzsche, 2006, p.

66). The practice of the church, its imposition of morality contradicts the essence of life which is the actualization of an individual’s self since it delimits an individual to one particular kind of existence. For example, Christian morality has the Ten Commandments. If an individual follows these commandments, the individual’s spiritual life is ensured in the afterworld. Nietzsche argues that by following these commandments, the individual is at once delimited to one particular form of existence.

This does not necessarily mean that Nietzsche applauds acts of murder; he is merely stating that by following moral rules and moral norms the individual is at once preventing himself from the experiencing a particular form of life and hence the actuality of life itself. It is important to note that by presenting a criticism of Christian moral values and moral values in general, Nietzsche does not necessarily prescribe an individual to follow his moral code. In fact one might state that Nietzsche does not possess a moral code. He states,

Whenever we speak of values, we speak under the inspiration…of life: life forces us to establish values; life itself evaluates through us when we posit values…It follows from this that even that anti-nature of a morality which conceives God as the antithesis and condemnation of life is merely a value judgment on the part of life. (Nietzsche, 2006, p. 467) Within this context, Nietzsche recognizes that the anti-nature of morality is a value in itself. It differs however from a moral code since it does not delimit an individual by prescribing actions which he ought and ought not to follow.

The importance of the anti-nature of morality lies in its emphasis on the affirmation of the individual. Within the text, Nietzsche claims, “morality in so far as it condemns…is a specific error…We seek our honour in being affirmative” (2006, p. 468). It is within this context that one may understand why for Nietzsche; the Ubermensch is an individual whose choices are dependent upon the ends justifying the means since to state that one performs a particular action since the means justifies the end is equivalent to performing a particular action since the act itself adheres to what a particular moral rule considers to be ‘good’.

This is evident if one considers that in order for an individual S to consider Q a ‘good’ act wherein Q is good due to P and Q necessarily follows from P, it is necessary for P to be good within the context of a moral norm M. For example, a person may consider giving alms to the poor good since the act of giving alms itself is considered ‘good’ within the context of a particular moral norm.

As opposed to the example mentioned above, the Ubermensch acts in accordance to what may be achieved by an act [the end of the act itself] since what the Ubermensch places emphasis on is the joy that may be achieved in the act itself. Alex MacIntyre states, “joy in the actual and active of every kind constitutes the fundamental end from which Nietzsche develops his critique of morality” (1999, p. 6). Although Nietzsche’s criticism of morality and its constraints upon an individual are valid, it is still impossible to conceive of a world wherein no morality is applied.

Within the context of social reality, moral norms function to ensure order within society. Although laws may function by themselves to ensure the order of society, laws themselves are dependent upon a particular moral norm which the society adheres to. References McIntyre, A. (1997). The Sovereignty of Joy: Nietzsche’s Vision of Grand Politics. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Nietzsche, F. (2006). Morality as Anti-Nature. The Nietzsche Reader. Eds. K. Ansell-Pearson & D. Large. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

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Morality as Anti-Nature Essay

Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Suicide Essay

Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Suicide Essay.

There are over thirty-thousand suicides a year in the United States alone. Whether or not suicide is acceptable is a moral issue. Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative can be applied to this moral issue. Kant strongly disagreed with suicide, because it was not a morally responsible decision; I will give a summary of the Categorical imperative, and use this information to develop an argument that Kant or a Kantian would use to argue against suicide. Kant’s Categorical imperative argued that an action or rule is moral if it is universally good.

If everyone sees an action as good and can perform the action than it is moral. The categorical imperative applies to all rational beings regardless of one’s personal motives and desires. Kant believed that we those actions that if you would want an action performed on you than it are moral. “Act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (309).

” Based on the categorical imperative, Suicide is immoral because it is our purpose to acquire happiness.

If we all committed suicide as we pleased, then we would seize to exist, which is unethical. Because suicide prevents us being happy, it is not morally permissible under Kant’s categorical imperative. Humans should be thought of as a means not an ends. If we committed suicide than we are not achieving our potential to be happy, which is unmoral. To Kant suicide was “in no circumstance permissible. ” Kant believed that any man, who would survive a suicide attempt, had now discarded his humanity and was lower than a beast.

Suicide degrades our humanity, because it takes away our basic purpose. One could argue that Kant biased to a religious view of suicide being immoral. Kant believes that our lives belong to God and are not ours to end. It is also questionable to categorize our lives as a thing, and debase his humanity over a decision that they have made. Suicide is immoral because it does not bring happiness, and is not universally acceptable. Because we can no longer make moral decisions Kant argues that suicide is not morally acceptable.

Kant states that “It cannot be moral to root out the existence of morality in the world. ” Suicide prevents you from performing anymore acts of morality. According to the Categorical imperative, if we can perform a good deed we should, regardless of whether there is anything to be gained. We are bound by a set of universal laws that all should follow unconditionally. We should not commit suicide because; we have an obligation to perform good deeds in the world. Our purpose as humans is to perform good actions in the world, but we cannot do this if we are dead.

Committing suicide prevents us from performing actions and is an irrational decision to make, which violates the Categorical Imperative. If one wants to commit suicide they should think of all of the actions that they would no longer be able to perform in death. One should strive to perform moral actions in life and to continue living as long as possible. We are each unique, and have actions that only we can complete. Works Cited Cahn, Steven M. , and Peter J. Markie. Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. New York: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Suicide Essay

Kant Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives Essay

Kant Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives Essay.

In the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, by Immanuel Kant, Kant proposes a very significant discussion of imperatives as expressed by what one “ought” to do. He implies this notion by providing the audience with two kinds of imperatives: categorical and hypothetical. The discussion Kant proposes is designed to formulate the expression of one’s action. By distinguishing the difference between categorical and hypothetical imperatives, Kant’s argues that categorical imperatives apply moral conduct in relation to performing one’s duty within the contents of good will.

According to Kant, the representation of an objective principle insofar as it necessitates the will is called a command which formulates the notion of an imperative . Imperatives are simply a formula of a reason. It determines the will of the action. Imperatives can be expressed in terms of what ought to do. For example, take the command “Sit Down! ” Kant expresses this command as an imperative by stating, “You ought to sit down! ” All imperatives are formulated by doing an action according to the standard of a will that it will provide a good ending in some way.

If the end action is good, as a mean to something else than it is considered a hypothetical imperative. On the other hand, if the action is good according to itself than it is considered a categorical imperative. Thus, Kant implies a distinction between these two kinds of imperatives. The first imperative that Kant proposes is hypothetical. A hypothetical imperative states only that an action is good for some purpose, either possible or actual . In a hypothetical imperative the action is done out of necessary for some purpose. Hypothetical imperatives take on the general form of; “If …then…”

“If” is considered the antecedent and “then” is considered conditional. Hypothetical imperatives tell us what we should do provided the fact that we have certain desires. For example, “If you want to get an A, then you ought to study. ” Wanting to get an A is required of one insofar as one is committed to studying. In other terms, if one desire is to get an A then the action one must take is to study in order to fulfill that desire. Hypothetical imperatives can further more be explained by breaking them down into what Kant calls “rules of skills,” and “counsels of prudence”.

Rules of skills simply imply the notion that there is something that you have to do; how one must accomplish something. An example of this is, “If you want to get well than you ought to take your medications. ” The action in accordance to the rule of skills implies the importance of taking your medications. Kant noted that there is no question at all whether the end is reasonable and good, but there is only a question as to what must be done to attain it. Moreover, the counsel of prudence examines just that. The antecedent “If” refers to the varying degrees of happiness within an individual.

“If you want to be happy then you ought to invest in a retirement plan. ” One’s motive to be happy (happiness as it implies to individualism) is fulfilled through the action. The action is done through the perception of prudence as it commands not absolutely but only as a means to further the purpose. In this respect, hypothetical imperatives apply actions of good in a conditional way. It is formulated that you need to know what the condition is before you act. Conditions are based upon a posteriori referring to experiences of knowledge due to ones own result.

Therefore hypothetical imperatives do not allow us to act in a moral way because they are based upon desires and experiences rather than good will or moral conduct. In contrast with hypothetical imperatives, which is dependent on an indivdual having a particular desires or purpose (such as wanting to get an A), categorical imperatives describe what we are required to do independently of what we may desire or prefer. A categorical imperative is the only imperative which immediately commands a certain conduct without having as its condition any other purpose to be attained by it.

Categorical imperatives are moral obligations that do not have a “If… and then…” form. In this respect they provide behavior categorically. They are not if you want x then you ought to do y. Rather they take the form of, you should do y. Kant states that categorical imperatives are limited by no condition, and can quite properly be called a command since it is absolutely, through practically necessary. Categorical imperative are concerned with the form of action and the princple from which the that action follows. The moral action is good within itself such the notion of practical reasoning.

Unlike a hypothetical imperative, categorical imperatives rely on independent experience; a prior. This is due to the fact that one’s moral principle is not based upon previous experience, but instead it is rooted in good will and one’s ability to perform their moral duty. Kant refers to this principle as the principle of morality. For it is from this in which all our moral duties are derived. The basic principle of morality is important because it commands certain courses of action. It is a categorical imperative because it commands unconditional actions. It is also independent of the particular ends and desires of the moral actions.

One can never really no the end motivate to why such an action is preformed, but one can concure that the action was done according to the moral duty of good will. Having good will or practical reasoning, lays a foundation that implies categorical imperatives to do what is pure and simple. A good will is good not because one wants to attain happiness or a purpose but it is good in itself. Kant explains that there is no possibility of thinking of anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be regarded as good without qualification, except a good will.

Therefore in accordance to good will, one must act as if the maxim of their action was to become a universal law. Kant first mentioned the notion of categorical imperative when he proposed the moral or universal law. You should never act except in such as way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law. Since maxims are basicly principles of action, the categorical imperative commands that one should act only on universal principles, that could be adopted by all rational agents such as human beings.

Actions that are done from duty are out of respect for the moral law. Duty is the necessity to act out of reverence for the law set by the categorical imperative. Because the consequences of an act are not the source of its moral worth, the source must be the maxim under which the act is performed, excluding all aspects of desires. Thus, a categorical imperative must have moral content if, and only if, it is carried out solely with regard to a sense of moral duty in coordination with good will. Clearly one can see that Kant believes in the expression of actions through imperatives.

By proposing imperatives, he formulated a command of reason. As hypothetical imperatives address actions done for a desire or a purpose, categorical imperatives, on the other hand address actions that result from moral conduct and good will. In distinghing the difference between these two imperatives, Kant’s main objection is to provide his readers with a clear understanding that actions based upon imperatives can be projected from two different views but the end result always provides good, in some way.

Kant Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives Essay

Kant vs Bentham Essay

Kant vs Bentham Essay.

Throughout the realm of philosophy there have been many arguments on the idea of ethics and what motivates human nature and guides our judgments. I will be focusing on two philosophers both of whom tried to answer that question. Jeremy Bentham whose views on what should be used to guide our judgments as to what’s wrong or right have been defined as utilitarianism. Focusing on a different idea using morals and a sense of duty to the greater good comes, Immanuel Kant’s ethics of deontology, or the ethics of rules and duties.

Jeremy Bentham’s ideas of utilitarianism focus on the experiences of pleasure over pain. To Bentham utility is the property in any object that tends to produce benefit, good, pleasure or happiness or prevent the happening of pain/evil, or unhappiness to the party where interest is considered. Kant on the other hand uses what he called imperatives to decide what should be considered morally right. The imperative, the law or choice must be respected, no matter what consequences come from the choice.

Also Kant looks at it this way, if the action in and of itself could be placed into a law for the morals of the people. Bentham: So Immanuel, are you saying that in order for a person to be moral that he has to possess his or her own free will? Kant: Yes Jeremy that is correct, your idea that morality can be dictated by a government or a majority of the people is ridiculous. Bentham: You’re wrong on that account Immanuel because human kind is evil in nature so they have a hard time deciding what is right and wrong so we need rules to govern us to make the right decisions.

Kant: Even though those rights may infringe on our personal beliefs? Our individuality is what makes us human, whole!! Bentham: You are wrong about that, the greater good is what is important, so what if a minority of the people is left out, it is important that the majority is happy, then and only then will it matter. Kant: No, as a human, we can govern ourselves. We have the knowledge within us to make the right or wrong choices; we do not need a bureaucrat sitting behind a desk somewhere to make that choice for us.

Bentham: Your idea of the use of morality sickens me Immanuel. You sit here on your high horse saying that if you decide that, oh let us just say killing is wrong, and someone breaks into your home and starts to rape or murder your wife or child then you are going to stand back and do nothing?? Kant: If I have made that decision that killing is wrong then yes, I will have to stand by that choice. Bentham: You know Kant, I think you would ignore that choice and you would defend your household because it is for the greater good of your family.

Kant: Well we will have to cross that bridge when we get there want we. So Benth old pal, you tell everyone that pure ethics are not practical, that you have to arrange things so it will compatible with human nature, why is that? Bentham: Because my friend, humans are in general like animals. We are instinctive and act on emotions; we need to have rules and regulations to keep us on the straight and narrow. Just knowing that there are consequences to our actions keep us in line, wouldn‘t you say?

Kant: No, I think people have a working knowledge of what is right and what is wrong; we do not need rules to keep us in line, which again, we can do those ourselves, unless, of course, a person is criminally insane and they can’t distinguish between the two actions. Kant: So then if your wheels are stuck in mud on this and keep spinning, how then do you see mankind in general? Bentham: Humans, by nature, are as follows. We are selfish and greedy, pleasure seeking, out for themselves, and in general not very trustworthy.

Kant: So you put me and you in those categories Jeremy? Bentham: Well we are human are we not Immanuel? Kant: You are impossible Jeremy!! I am done having this conversation with you Immanuel; it is like talking to brick wall. Bentham: You know you enjoyed it Mr. Kant, and I bet we will talk again real soon. Morality and ethics are different for all of us, and I believe that Kant makes some good points, and Bentham has some good points but there are flaws in both. We all face choices in our lives sometimes they are dictated by the situation or opportunity.

If a gunman walked into a crowded store, would I take the gunman down to save lives putting my life in jeopardy, would I tell him the police are on their way even though I may be lying? Kant follows a strict path, one that he may have broken if faced with a certain situation, we are human of course, and this is where I side with Bentham. Being a former law officer I have seen good and bad in this world and I do believe that we do need rules to govern us, even though we might not agree with the all.

Kant vs Bentham Essay

Machiavelli and Morality Essay

Machiavelli and Morality Essay.

When reading Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, one can’t help but grasp Machiavelli’s argument that morality and politics can not exist in the same forum. However, when examining Machiavelli’s various concepts in depth, one can conclude that perhaps his suggested violence and evil is fueled by a moral end of sorts. First and foremost, one must have the understanding that this book is aimed solely at the Prince or Emperor with the express purpose of aiding him in maintaining power.

Therefore, it is essential to grasp his concepts of fortune and virtue.

These two contrary concepts reflect the manner in which a Prince should govern while minimizing all chance and uncertainty. This kind of governing demands violence to be taken, however this is only done for the strict purpose of maintaining his throne, and generating both fear and admiration from his people. In all cases of violence, Machiavelli limits the amount of violence that needs to be taken down to the minimum, and most cases the victims of these acts are enemies of the people.

Behind the violence, the prince is essentially taking the role of the villain and assuming all “bad” acts so that his people do not have to suffer and commit the acts themselves. In addition, all the Prince asks for is to not threaten his power and to respect it. In the 16th Century, this request is feeble compared to those of other hierarchical Monarchies. In the end, Machiavelli’s Prince assumes all the burden of violence while leaving his noble people to act as they feel accordingly without worry of their lively hood. This is Machiavelli’s ultimate stroke of morality.

Before examining how the interaction of violence and politics lead to morality in the end, it is important to analyze exactly what Machiavelli demands of his Prince. First and foremost, Machiavelli harps upon the concept of fortune and virtue. By fortune, he means that everything is left to chance, while nothing will guarantee that a certain event will occur. Machiavelli writes that a “Great long standing Prince never rules with fortune. ” Through risk and chance, one leaves him open to failure; thus action should be withheld if an element of chance is involved. Machiavelli ties virtue very closely to that of prudence.

He defines virtue as acting exceptionally and draws a distinction between morality and virtue. In many respects Machiavelli defines virtue by prudence. If a ruler is able to balance his violence, keep his subjects appeased, and have a dire understanding of his threats, then in Machiavelli’s eyes the ruler has a strong virtue. What must be understood is that the throne is always in jeopardy and someone is always there to try to knock the prince off his pedestal. This is a prime understanding that a prince must have, and fuels the infamous argument by Machiavelli that it is better to be feared than loved.

Machiavelli explains that, for the most part, love is very subjective and eventually will subside unless further concessions are made to appease his subjects. In addition, people only care about their personal conveniences and a prince would have to overextend himself if he were to be loved by all. Fear, however, is not subjective and has a universal effect on all his people. Fear can be attained by sporadic violent acts. One must understand, however, that massive amounts of violence can not be done because it would portray the Prince as tyrant, and might stir up his people to revolt against him.

The acts must be calculated, concise, and serve a direct purpose not only to his benefit but to the people’s also. Despite what might be assumed, Machiavelli is really developing a principality based around the people, where the Prince’s actions are merely to save his own head from the chopping block. In essence, Machiavelli’s ideal principality sustains a genuine sense of morality behind the violence that “must be subjected in order to maintain stability. ” Looking at his plans subjectively, Machiavelli could very easily have broken down the subjects in a hierarchical fashion or forced upon them large sum taxes and duties.

He does not do this, instead opting simply for the respect of the people and the lack of treachery in affairs regarding his power. The people in his kingdom can live with tranquility, and pursue whatever they so desire. This freedom of the people and ability to act as they feel is more than a simple convenience. Personal pursuit of happiness of all is given by the Prince but at his expense. All that the people must do is respect and not threaten the Prince’s power. On the contrary, the Prince sacrifices his own motives, morals, and personal happiness so that his subjects may have them.

Essentially, Machiavelli paints the Prince as a Christ figure. It is the Prince who takes away the sins of the world, so to speak. He gives up his morals so that other may keep and cherish theirs. Machiavelli firmly insists that politics and morality can not co-exist. The main reason is that moral behavior is consistent and can be predictable. Consistency and predictability are significannot ly weak components of a ruler, and could be exploited by his enemies. When a pattern of action is established, conspirators can conspire and plan an overthrow.

These conspirators would then plunder and pillage as they came to power; therefore worsening the situation in the kingdom. The people then would become the victims, and anarchy would soon break out creating all kinds of disorder. So, although the intentions of moral political actions are good, in the end they will lead to immoral acts. The actions he takes are not just violent tyrannical activities rather they are sacrifices. He is the one who must live with the guilt of sin, not his constitutes. In terms of morality, the Prince does not demand any unmoral action from his subjects.

He shoulders it all. It is also the Prince who, although it is also for his personal safety, eliminates the tyrants that not only threaten his throne but also his people. Along the same lines as halting anarchy or riots, the elimination of other power hungry individuals evaporates the threat of oppression on the people from another exterior source. One thing that remains consistent in his principality is that people maintain their honor and esteem, and this unselfish sacrifice is what makes the Prince’s actions in actuality quite moral.

Another aspect that one can not help but ignore is that fact the Prince assumes the position of ruler at the costs and expectations. For being a Prince, he must at times be prudent and aware of his position with the people. Machiavelli writes “the Prince must be seen as moral by the people. ” The fact underlies the importance of morality for Machiavelli. Without morality and without the notion of morality in a Prince, civil disorder will occur. Morality, with its uncertainties, provides at the very least a common non-violent base in which subjects have a set of rules could live by.

What makes morality important to the Prince is that it also allows him a statute of sorts. For example, if people operate by their morals than the Prince has not to worry such problems as stealing, killing and other immoral actions. Therefore, just by appearing to be moral, morality can be used as a tool to control and harness the people below him. As Prince, Machiavelli’s existence and power is constantly threatened. However, it is not simply a job or power that the Prince would lose if he is to be overthrown from his position. It is, in turn, his life that the Prince would lose if he were overtaken.

Therefore, it could be conceived that the Prince is acting and utilizing violence simply to save his own life. Saving a life, even it is your own, follows within the moral code. You could though look at the situation from a different perspective. Machiavelli argues that the only noteworthy position a moral person can assume is that of a martyr. However, I disagree with this statement because although one could be reveled as a martyr, the possible effects of a new prince’s statutes far outweigh the benefits of being a martyr.

As a martyr people simply become energized and support your cause. However, if a Prince is such martyr, that would mean a new Prince is in power and could instill far worse conditions upon the people. Therefore, with his subjects as the top priority, morality demands that the Prince must stay alive and allow the people to prosper under his free monarchy. Machiavelli’s Prince is a book in which Machiavelli outlines the actions a Prince must take to hold and maintain power in a principality.

Within the context of the book, Machiavelli brings forth the notion that prudent violence must be done in order to maintain the throne. In addition, he strongly expresses the ideology that a Prince can not be both moral and political. However, behind this argument lays the foundation of morality. The Prince’s evil actions although not moral seem to sustain morality for the subjects within his principality. The Prince assumes all immoral behaviors and thus, by sacrifices himself for the people, is indeed moral in the end.

Machiavelli and Morality Essay

Conventional Morality Essay

Conventional Morality Essay.

Lawrence Kohlberg: “Physical consequences of an action determine its goodness or badness regardless of the human meaning or value of these consequences. Avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power are valued in their own right, not in terms of respect for an underlying moral order supported by punishment and authority. ” (Duska, R. and Whelan, M. , 1975) Summary: The concern is for self – “Will I get into trouble for doing (or not doing) it? ” Good behaviour is associated with avoiding punishment.

Inadequacy of Stage 1 reasoning: Avoidance of punishment regardless of the ethical value of the actions is unhealthy especially under “bad” authorities such as Adolf Hitler.

* Stage 2: Instrumental Relativist Orientation Lawrence Kohlberg: Right action is “that which instrumentally satisfies one’s own needs and occasionally the needs of others. ” “Human relations are viewed in terms like those of the marketplace; elements of fairness, reciprocity and equal sharing are present, but they are always interpreted in a physical or pragmatic way.

Reciprocity is a matter of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,’ not of loyalty, gratitude or justice.

” (Duska, R. and Whelan, M. , 1975) Summary: The concern is “What’s in it for me? ” It is still egocentric in outlook but with a growing ability to see things from another person’s perspective. Action is judged right if it helps in satisfying one’s needs or involves a fair exchange. Inadequacy of Stage 2 reasoning: Where the needs of different individuals conflict, can there ever be a fair exchange? Doesn’t this conflict call for sacrifice from one of the parties?

Level 2 – Conventional Morality People at this stage conform to the conventions / rules of a society. * Stage 3: Good Boy-Nice Girl Orientation Lawrence Kohlberg: “Good behavior is that which pleases or helps others and is approved by them. There is much conformity to stereotypical images of what is majority or ‘natural’ behaviour. Behavior is frequently judged by intention. ‘He means well’ becomes important for the first time. One earns approval by being ‘nice. ‘” (Duska, R. and Whelan, M. , 1975) Summary: The concern is “What will people think of me? ” and the desire is for group approval.

Right action is one that would please or impress others. This often involves self-sacrifice but it provides the psychological pleasure of ‘approval of others. ‘ Actions are also judged in relation to their intention. Inadequacy of Stage 3 reasoning: * Same person, different roles OR Different groups, different expectations * Different people, different roles * People not living up to their duties or roles * Stage 4: Law and Order Orientation Lawrence Kohlberg: “Right behavior consists in doing one’s duty, showing respect for authority and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.

” A person in this stage “orients to society as a system of fixed rule, law and authority with the prospect of any deviation from rules as leading to social chaos. ” (Duska, R. and Whelan, M. , 1975) Summary: The concern now goes beyond one’s immediate group(s) to the larger society … to the maintenance of law and order. One’s obligation to the law overrides one’s obligations of loyalty to one’s family, friends and groups. To put it simply, no one or group is above the law. Inadequacy of Stage 4 reasoning: * Unquestioning obedience toward authority is unhealthy.

* Accepted social order may not be the best possible order. The laws of society may even be bad. Level 3 – POSTConventional Morality The moral principles that underline the conventions of a society in this level are understood. * Stage 5: Social Contract Orientation Lawrence Kohlberg: “Generally with utilitarian overtones. Right action tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights and in terms of standards which have been critically examined and agreed upon by the whole society … with an emphasis upon the possibility of changing law in terms of rational consideration of social utility (rather than rigidly maintaining it in terms of Stage 4 law and order). ” (Duska, R. and Whelan, M. , 1975) Summary:

The concern is social utility or public interest. While rules are needed to maintain social order, they should not be blindly obeyed but should be set up (even changed) by social contract for the greater good of society. Right action is one that protects the rights of the individual according to rules agreed upon by the whole society. Inadequacy of Stage 5 reasoning: How do we arrive at a consensus on the rules that are good for society?

Should a majority group impose their preferences on a minority group? What if you disagree with the decision of the majority? * Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principle Orientation Lawrence Kohlberg: “Right is defined by the decision of conscience in accord with self-chosen ethical principles appealing to logical comprehensiveness, universality and consistency. These principles are abstract and ethical (the golden rule, the categorical imperative) and are not concrete moral rules like the Ten Commandments.

At heart, these are universal principles of justice, of the reciprocity and equality of human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons. ” (Duska, R. and Whelan, M. , 1975) Summary: The concern is for moral principles … an action is judged right if it is consistent with self-chosen ethical principles. These principles are not concrete moral rules but are universal principles of justice, reciprocity, equality and human dignity. Inadequacy of Stage 6 reasoning: Our conscience is not an infallible guide to behaviour because it works according to the principles we have adopted.

Moreover, who or what determines these universal principles? Although moral reasoning does not necessarily lead to moral action, the latter is based in part on one’s capacity to reason about moral choices. Kohlberg was more concerned with the reasoning of the action than the action itself. And that reasoning when acted upon becomes our motivation. II – ETHICAL RELATIVISM * Cultural Relativism (sociological relativism): The descriptive view that different groups of people have different moral standards for evaluating acts as right or wrong. A.

Hence, it is not an ethical doctrine–it’s a sociological or observational conclusion–even so; the view is somewhat ambiguous. B. For example, different groups might have the same basic moral principle, but apply the principle in radically different situations. 1. A second sense of cultural relativism is less obvious. I. e. , that different cultures differ on basic moral principles. 2. A possible reason for the observation of cultural relativism is shown by the example of basic moral principles which could be said to support different moral rules according to the interpretations of different cultures.

In the following diagrams, there are two vastly different interpretations listed for each moral principle. * Ethical Relativism: the prescriptive view that (1) different groups of people ought to have different ethical standards for evaluating acts as right or wrong, (2) these different beliefs are true in their respective societies, and (3) these different beliefs are not instances of a basic moral principle. A. The ethical relativist often derives support for his position by two basic mistakes: 1.

The relativist confuses cultural (or sociological) relativism with ethical relativism, but cultural relativism is a descriptive view and ethical relativism is a prescriptive view. (E. g. , cultural relativismdescribes the way the way people actually behave, and ethical relativism prescribes the way people ought to behave. 2. The ethical relativist often argues as follows: “An absolute ethical standard has never been proved beyond doubt in the history of thought. Thus, an absolute ethical standard does not exist. ” This argument is an instance ad ignorantiam fallacy.

p is unproved; not-p is true. From the fact that a statement has not been proved, we can logically draw no conclusion. B. Objections to ethical relativism. 1. The Differing Ideals Objection (or, as it is sometimes called, the linguistic objection): it is inconsistent to say that the same practice is considered right in one society and considered wrong in another. (If “right” and “wrong” are to have consistent meaning, then the terms must be used in the same manner. ) Possible counter-objections (by the ethical relativist): a.

The relativist sometimes states that “right” and “wrong” have no consistent meaning. These words reflect only emotion or perhaps the ceremonial use of language. In other words, this defense shades into ethical subjectivism. Counter-counter-objection (by ethical absolutist): The problem with believing that “right” and “wrong” have no consistent meaning is the ordinary use of words in this case results in meaninglessness. What would happen if people used the same word in different situations to refer to different things? Communication would not take place. b.

Some ethical relativists believe ethical words are reducible to non-ethical values; e. g. , these words have to do with recommendations for survival or well-being. Counter-counter-objection (by ethical absolutist): the problem here is just the difficulty of understanding the nature of a non-ethical value. Would a non-ethical value be an aesthetic value? c. Some relativists believe we can justify relativism by intuition, revelation, authority, etc. Counter-counter-objection (by ethical absolutist): these attempts are subjectively based; they differ from time to time and place to place.

2. Mental Health Objection to ethical relativism (from the definition or criterion of a group): If “what is right in one group is wrong in another,” where exactly does one group end and another begin? Counter-objections to the Mental Health Objection (by the relativist): * Right and wrong are to be determined in the situation. * Right and wrong are to be determined by what the majority determine at the time and place. * Right and wrong are ultimately established by power or authority. 3.

Ad Populum Objection to the relativist’s belief that ethics is established by what most people believe: Simply because most people think something is right does not thereby make it right. Simply because most people think a statement is true does notmake that statement true Counter-objections to the ad populum objection (by the relativist): a. The same difficulty of establishing the meaning of “right” and “wrong” exits for the absolutist, pari passu. The absolutist has been unable to state a universally agreed upon meaning to the terms.

(Notice that this response is a variant of the ad hominem—tu quoque.) b. Other solutions to the questions of the meaning of key ethical terms according to the relativist are possible by appealing to survival value, consensus gentium, and so on 4. Moral Progress Objection: If ethical relativism were correct, there could be no such thing as moral improvement or purpose in cultures or a person’s life. To have improvement, we must have a standard by which to judge the difference in moral values. Counter-objections (by the relativist): a. That’s correct–we can make no such judgment that one society is better than another. We could only judge by our own values.

b. If something like “survival value” is used to ground moral beliefs, then moral improvement might be identified with “increased knowledge concerning survival of the society. ” * Ethical Absolutism: the prescriptive view that there are basic or fundamental ethical principles which are true without qualification or exception as to time, condition, or circumstance. * Ethical Nihilism: the view that ethical terms such as “right” and “wrong” have no meaning or are nonsense. A. Objection: but something is meant when we say, “X is wrong. ” Counter-objections (by the nihilist):

1. If there is no empirical meaning to the terms, they have no “cash value. ” (Q. v. , positivism. ) 2. “Whatever can be said, can be said clearly. ” The burden of proof that the terms have meaning is on the non-nihilist. * Ethical Skepticism: the view that ethical terms such as “right” and “wrong” might have meaning but their meaning cannot be established. A. Objection to skepticism at this point is methodological. Ethical skepticism should not be held a priori at the beginning of an investigation but should only be a possible outcome after a thorough study.

Conventional Morality Essay